Muzaffarnagar has been in the news time and again for all the wrong reasons. Recently, a school warden from a residential school in Muzaffarnagar allegedly took off the clothes of nearly 70 young girls to check for ‘menstrual blood’. The school where this incident took place is the Kasturba Gandhi Girls Residential School.

The incident gained media attention when the relatives got to know about it and protested against it outside the school on Thursday. The students are reported to be saying that the warden, Surekha Tomar, gathered them at one place and commanded them to strip. She did not stop at this and even threatened the children by implying that strict action will be taken against those who disobey her, said students.

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“Some blood was found in the bathroom. The warden ordered us to remove our clothes. It was very humiliating for all of us. We want action against her,” a report in CNN-News18 quoted one of the students saying.

Tomar defended her act of stripping the girls by saying, “Some blood was found on the floor and wall of a bathroom. I wanted to check whether everything was all right with the girls. Such young girls are sometimes unable to express…I just asked them if anything was wrong.”

She added, “I am strict when it comes to studies. That is why the girls don’t like me. They are being provoked by other staff members who want me to leave.”

Now the local education department authorities have intervened and begun an investigation.

MY TAKE: Menstruation has been a taboo for a very long time. It is only since a few years that some liberal and progressive people have started talking about it in open spaces, but incidents like this one validate the importance of this discourse. For how long we will go on getting grossed out by the period blood? Why cannot the society accept the fact that it is just a broken egg, which is an indication of a girl not pregnant? These questions irritate not just me but many others who know about the process of menstruation.

It is ignorance that women resort to such actions as Tomar. And If Tomar is true to her words that she just wanted to “check whether everything was all right with the girls”, then it is the fault of our education system as well that it has still kept menstruation so hushed down that girls in smaller towns feel embarrassed by it and refrain from discussing about it.

I say we educate our girls to speak out about menstruation and talk about it among their peer groups involving all genders. It is about time we stop the negative connotation around the word “periods” and start a healthy conversation that helps one another in times of distress. Let the word spread so far and wide that no girl ever has to buy a sanitary pad packed carefully inside a black cover.   

Picture credit- ANI

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